SE: No Place Like Home – Women’s Golf Season Preview

Last year, K-State women’s golf did something it hadn’t done in 10 years – it won a tournament title. 
The team kicked off what would turn into an exciting 2014-15 season with a Marilynn Smith/Sunflower Invitational victory in Lawrence last September, and it is ready to do the same next week at home.
Similar to last year, the Wildcats will begin this season with the Marilynn Smith/Sunflower Invitational, however while it’s the same tournament, the location is completely different. 
This year, the event will take place at Colbert Hills Golf Course giving the Cats – the reigning tournament champions – a home-course advantage. 
“It’s very exciting,” said Wildcat junior Madison Talley about hosting this year’s event. “I think that we’re going to play very well. We all had great summers, we’ve had two weeks to prepare together and we’ve been out on the course almost every day. Four of us have been playing Colbert Hills for a while, and we’ve definitely helped the new players know where to hit it and how to play this course. So I’m excited.”
K-State hasn’t hosted a home tournament in two years, so for many players it will be their first time competing in a home event.
“It is quite exciting because we’ve played this course so many times I’ve lost track; so hopefully we’ll know the course pretty well,” laughed sophomore Connie Jaffrey. “As a team, we’re very strong this year, so I think we will all perform well and use our home advantage.”
The tournament, set to tee off at 8:30 a.m., on Monday, Sept. 7 and run through Tuesday, Sept. 8, will feature a field of 12 teams, including Big 12 opponents Kansas and TCU.  
As this year’s host and last year’s tournament winner, the pressure will be high for K-State. Wildcat head coach Kristi Knight said her team hasn’t been looking at it that way. Rather, this year’s squad is calm, cool and collected, and the Wildcats will be focused on their game and their game alone.   
“Our goal for this season is to keep our energy and keep our attention on the things within our control,” explained Knight. “We have absolutely no control on what the other 11 teams will come in here and do. Golf is a funny game, but I know if these ladies just keep their energy and their focus on the things they can control, and if they do the best they can, they’ll do well. It’s September, it’s a long season, so we’re going to take it one event at a time and stay with the process.”
This year’s Wildcat roster is made up of four returners and two newcomers who will bring a mix of both talent and experience to the course. Along with Jaffrey and Talley, K-State returns its lone senior, Scotland Preston of Mountainside, New Jersey, and junior Katherine Gravel-Coursol of Mirabel, Quebec.
Among the team’s most experienced players, Talley led the Wildcats last season with a 73.78 stroke average, five top-10 finishes and capped off her sophomore campaign with a 23rd-place finish at the 2015 NCAA San Antonio Regional last May.  
“I want to start out strong at our home tournament then just come off the leap we made last year and continue progressing from there,” said Talley. “This team, we’re all very close, and we’ve all developed a very close relationship, so I’m excited to see how this team does and how we all work together.”
Jaffrey enters this season coming off of an impressive freshman year where she finished second on the team with a 74.42 stroke average and took home a first-place finish at the Johnie Imes Invitational last September. Taking advantage of the off season, Jaffrey spent her summer in Europe competing in a number of European Ladies Amateur events and qualified for the 2015 Women’s British Open. 
“My highlight of the summer was playing in the British Open; it was a great experience to play with professionals and to see where my game was compared to them,” said Jaffrey. “I think it has helped me quite a lot because I gained experience. I kept up my skills and generally just kept up my golf game. I really haven’t had a break from it, but that’s good because I’ll have some momentum going into competitions in the fall.”
The two newcomers, junior Paige Nelson, a transfer from Sam Houston State, and Chloe Weir, a freshman from Belfast, Northern Ireland, bring new, unique styles to the team. Although they have only been in Manhattan for a few weeks, they have been quick to impress.  
“They’re both good additions and they both have a ton of playing experience,” said Knight. “Paige played two years of college golf at Sam Houston. She’s played a ton of college golf and has won a collegiate tournament. Then, of course, Chloe has competed all over the UK. They’ve stepped right in and they’re ready to go.”
Along with next week’s home competition, the Wildcats have a full fall schedule ahead (you can click here to check out the Cats’ full fall schedule). From the Schooner Fall Classic in Norman, Oklahoma, to the Edan Ihlanfeldt Invitational in Sammamish, Washington – one of college golf’s premier tournaments – the team is set to travel far and wide this fall and compete in some of the nation’s top tournaments along the way. 
“We’re going to see some new golf courses this year,” said Knight. “Most of our players have played Old Hawthorne (Colombia, Mo.), and Madison and Katherine have played UT Golf Club (Austin, Texas), but other than that, they’re all new venues. The Schooner Invitational by Oklahoma is an event they’ve changed up a little bit, and I’ve heard it’s at a good golf course, so we’re excited to go there. 
“It’ll also be fun to go to Seattle and play at the University of Washington,” she continued. “The Edan Ihalanfeldt Invitational, it’s named after one of the former coaches at Washington and is one of the long time college golf events – it’s one of the top golf courses in the Northwest, so we are excited for that one. We’ve got a good schedule and we really like this group of young ladies; we like what we’ve seen so far from them, and we’re looking forward to getting this season going.”
Yesterday afternoon K-State football held its first press conference of the 2015 season. Wildcat head coach Bill Snyder as well as select players addressed the media prior to the team’s upcoming matchup against South Dakota at 6:10 p.m. on Saturday, September 5, in Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Please click here to read about yesterday’s press conference